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Graphics

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Readers of recent posts here will hopefully get the title. For those who missed them: no need to be alarmed! I’m referring to projection of 3D textures which I covered in a post earlier this month. I’ve dialled it down, gone all minimalist and thrown in a circular gradient for a subtle slice of variety. I’m quite liking it.

Christmas is no time for restraint, so here are some alternatives; it’s the same design, just different colours. The choice for header was actually the last one made – that might seem natural and obvious, but it’s rarely the case for me, actually. With digital art and the array of enticing buttons and tools, it can sometimes have you going further than you really need to.

I hope everyone has a peaceful holiday, whether you’re celebrating or not. There’s not long to wait, now! To wrap things up, here’s a gorgeously elegant (and criminally underplayed) take on a classic Christmas song. Yes, of course it’s the Carpenters. I’m nothing if not predictable, but then, Christmas is all about familiarity. It really doesn’t get much better than this, well, not for me anyway; I bet even the Lindt Master Chocolatier wishes he knew Karen’s secret.

Merry Christmas.

abstract-pinecone-004cWell, it’s time to jolly things up a little bit. In truth, I feel a lot less dumfungled than I did at the beginning of the weekend. In fact, I feel a weight has been lifted, and now I’m even kind of looking forward to Christmas.

I could make a quip about such a boost leaving me pining for some artsy times but, honestly, these have been sitting around for a fortnight or so. I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t sure of how much time I’d have this month, so this was a Christmas card scramble, just so that I’d have something to deliver. As it turned out, I’ve actually had an awful lot of free time thus far (at least, as much as one can have juggling everything at this time of year) and these have been pushed into second place, with hopefully something nicer coming a bit closer to the event. Well, now you have a choice of two!

As you can hopefully gather, I attempted to abstract some pine cones. It’s simply an arrowhead shape cloned, there really isn’t much else to say about that. I did, however, have quite a play around with compositions, and even more so colour; even the glitch effect wormed its way in, as you can see above. Perhaps a bit dark and too cold, even for Crimbo, but I do rather like it nonetheless!

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I think my favourite is the five cone star, as seen above, with the extra points thrown in. This would have been the e-card of 2019, but I think what I have is a little nicer (if equally unoriginal). You’ll have to wait and see on that score. But, again, this is fun and, as Mr. Literal, it’s nice to be breaking away from that slightly and thinking design for the first time in a while.

abstract-rain-02Another tree try-out! Well, this time I endeavoured to take my previous post and bring that around to my earlier stuff. Throw some rain in, basically. I started off with a very rough sketch and then threw it under various distortion maps to ‘glitch it up’, as you can see above and below. Some of these are interesting, though I’m not sure if the sheer randomness of it all might make them a hard to manipulate, should I want to create something more precise.

abstract-rain-11Do you remember back in the days of Windows 95/98, there was a Windows desktop theme called Rainy Day? It was all murky blue-grey, as you’d expect. I think my dad was obsessed with that, as every time we got a new PC, one of the first things he’d do was switch the style to Rainy Day. That came to mind as I used very similar colours for the following developments; the tree silhouette and the background are wildly distorted, with several layers of noise attempting to look ominous, stormy, perhaps slightly hypnotic – I know I’m captivated by storms. It’s something to revisit, I’m sure.

Ice trees. Because that was the logical progression. In truth, these were supposed to be drops on glass, reminiscent of my previous post, though they do feel more Mr. Freeze to me. Still, it’s a bit weird and that’s usually interesting if nothing else.

It was a shame to hear of Marie Fredriksson’s death last week. Her voice takes me back to my university days: 2011, a mere eight years ago, though it now seems a lifetime ago in several respects. Back then, I often found myself procrastinating by means of old Top of the Pops on YouTube, and on one seemingly unexceptional episode from 1991, who should burst onto the screen? It was Roxette – just a few seconds, in a compilation package. I don’t think I even knew them before that. But damn – that hair! That voice! It was one of those great moments where you hear just a few notes and there’s a need to find out more, and then comes the excitement as you discover as much as you can. It’s the best thing about music. I got no end of stick for liking them, but couldn’t care less – Marie’s voice was worth it. Joyride is pure pop and will always be a go-to should I need a lift, but I think if I had to pick a single track it would probably be Queen of Rain, a beautiful song which very much fits the recent theme, so that’s why I decided to leave a little tribute here. Farewell to a remarkable talent.

geometric-trees-1Projection, you understand. Frontal projection of texture essentially positions it to face and fill the render region regardless of the object’s shape. This can produce some interesting results, one way or the other. I have dabbled with it sporadically in the past, but this time I ran with this tree spree and tried to get a little more out of it. I went with a radial gradient to start, with an inverted replica used for the background.

Bit much, perhaps? Mindful of its loudness, I did try and keep the landscape simple. It does look bolder with some different colours being used; I do like how crisp the blue turned out. Perhaps, if toned down slightly, there’s even potential in a Christmas card there. My thanks to Steve of Steve Kidd Art for helping me see sense on the windmill iteration.

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And another experiment – the same idea, just using pixelated noise instead of the same gradient. This time, the subject was another favourite, the silver birch tree:

geometric-trees-D01geometric-trees-D02Perhaps a case of a birch too far, but more fun nevertheless. Who couldn’t love trees?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you – I said there would be more of this carry-on to come, and here we are. I didn’t quite expect it to come this quickly, but there will be no complaints about that. This little spike in productivity is very welcome.

First, we have these concoctions above, trying to take my previous post onward and into a 3D space. They aren’t really up to much at the moment but who knows, with someone clever texturing and arranging lighting they might have something going for them. As it is, the sphere arrangement just reminds me of the Chupa Chups display in sweet shops – temptation aside, that’s not really a bad thing.

On that mention of texturing, here are a couple of late additions; it’s the same basic principle, only with rounded branches and a snazzy steel finish:

I broke that down a little more with the next set, removing the branches and coming to floating shapes housing the tree’s image; in this case, said image comes from a post I made way back in 2017.

Finally, introducing the old favourite, the glitch effect; this time done with layers and layers of lines, each with different colours:

geometric-trees-B005geometric-trees-B006The first actually seems to chime quite nicely with the original and its setting. The yellow is perhaps a little loud, but who’s worrying about that? I’m pretty good at messing things up in general, so it’s rather surprising it’s taken me this long to embrace the glitch effect in my work. It’s fun.

pixeltree-3dI’ve developed a bit of a thing for this reductive/De Stijl/glitch/whatever I’m calling it today style I’ve been exploring lately, so set about doing some more, moving the focus from line and more toward shape – topiary, if you will – just throwing blocks and circles together, basically, and trying not to balls it up in the process.

I did give myself some rule and order in that I restricted myself to circles, triangles and oblongs, each of which having three proportionally sized ‘heads’. I then attacked them with texture brushes. The copses above were rather thrown together, trying to not to overthink composition. The same went for an attempt at one of my favourite trees, the weeping willow:

pixeltree-3I would say these have been the most exciting experiments of the year, but, given my rate of posting that isn’t really saying much. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a while, anyway, and I’m sure there will be more.

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It’s time for another look at lettering, and high time too, as I haven’t been able to do nearly as much as I would’ve liked this year; I wanted to fit in another Twenty-Six Spins but that doesn’t look likely, sadly. It will happen, though. When you least expect it. Consider this a warning for shoddy Photoshops and even shoddier wheel puns.

I was looking at quick, flowing forms and somehow came to ropes. I thought it might be interesting to try and model a rope in 3D. So that’s what I did. (It wasn’t that interesting, really).

Surprisingly simple it was, actually, done in a couple of minutes by sweeping a flower shape along a spline and having it rotate along. It does seem to lose something on longer forms, as you might be able to tell. It’s a bit ropey. I also wasn’t entirely sure about the texture that I made, so I went back to black and white to try and mask that as much as possible. It’s quite unusual for me to start with colour or texture then work backwards, especially with lettering; I’ve learnt over the years that the gold is always to be found in the simplest forms, and that, unsurprisingly, seems to be true of this exercise too. That’s where the hallowed Threshold filter comes in. Even the textured renders look much punchier in simple monochrome, I think.

I did attempt some knots, as you can see here with a couple of alternate forms. I’ve never been good with tying even the most basic of knots, so maybe that’s why I largely steered clear of this. They’re even harder with splines! I imagine there are plugins out there which can model such a thing with just a click.

And for all my slamming colour earlier on, I did throw a few letters into Photoshop and give them a paint job; kind of fun, I guess, but I might be saying that to the happy colours themselves rather than the letters.

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Well, that ties it up for now. This experiment might knot be for everyone, but it was once again fun learning the ropes. Hopefully next year I’ll not be roped into other things, and shall be able to do a little more in this vein.